The US has proposed a mandatory registration before the end of the year.
Owners of all drones weighing half a pound or more could have to register with the US government in order to stem illegal flights.
The proposed registration would be free, easy to complete online and would permit multiple devices on an owner’s filing, the proposal suggests.
Michael Huerta, chief of Federal Aviation Administration, said: “We will work quickly and flexibly to move toward the next steps for registration.”
The FAA must find a way to adapt the recommendations of the proposal to existing laws that are not directly relevant to drones, in time to begin registration before the Christmas buying rush.
“We have a very large number of unregistered drones out there, and a very unsophisticated number of operators who have no idea what the FAA requirements are, or even what the FAA does,” said Kenneth Quinn, former chief counsel at the agency. “To expect widespread compliance any time soon is highly unrealistic.”